Leonie thinks I pack too quickly, that I don’t give it enough thought or take enough care. The opposite is true; I take a lot longer than she does.
When I was a kid, I’d always get really excited when we were going on holiday or for a few days away. I’d get quite anxious before we left. That means I’d be moody (you can hardly believe it, right?), l wouldn’t eat well and I’d sleep badly. I’d hardly sleep at all the night before leaving because of all the excitement. I’d be awake early, wondering why we weren’t leaving yet, why we had to do unimportant things like have breakfast first. And why was nobody else ready to leave yet!!!?
A lot has changed since then. These days I can eat before we leave. And I’ll drink a beer. Anything to calm my nerves. I’m not worried about flying or about what could go wrong, I’m just so excited to be going somewhere. It doesn’t have to be a new place, just somewhere. Places are great.
And this excitement starts weeks before. I start to think about what I’m going to wear so that the clothes I want to take won’t be in the washing basket on the last day before we go. That’s when I start separating my clothes into piles in the wardrobe or putting the stuff I want to pack into a drawer that must not be tampered with by anyone else! I will tamper with that drawer. Many, many times. I’ll take out that grey T-shirt and swap it with a blue. And back again a few days later. At night, in those inevitable sleepless moments, I’ll continually revise the numbers. Seven T-shirts. Two jumpers. One pair of jeans. No, I’ll wear the jeans, they’re heavy in the suitcase. And on and on it goes.
I don’t really want anyone to know that the very idea of travelling gets me all excited like some little kid, so I do all this in secret. I try to disguise this pile of going away clothes as just any old clothes, not the carefully selected elite items that they are. And they wait there, like sleeper agents, living among all the ordinary clothes until that moment comes.
That moment always comes too late. Leonie leaves her packing till pretty much the last minute. Sure, there are untidy piles of stuff on chairs, tables and the floor. But they’re nothing like my carefully arranged (disguised) stacks. Her bundles even look impatient, desperate to get into that backpack. Or maybe that’s just how it looks to me.
Finally though, she’ll be ready to pack. The night before we leave. Probably less than 12 hours before we leave. That’s beer time. I wait until then before packing because it is better to see what the other is taking. That really means it’s better for me to see what Leonie’s taking. Oh, yeah, swimming gear! And shorts! Definitely. A pair of trainers could be good too.
Why didn’t I prepare these things all those weeks ago? Didn’t I mention I was already excited back then? And yes, I have sometimes still needed to borrow clothes once I got to the place, but only jumpers and, once our twice maybe even trousers. Warm stuff. That’s because I’m an optimist. I never think it’s going to be cold where we’re going. I can’t get excited about cold places.